Christmas will be lonelier this year in Greece as the country remains in lockdown to beat the spread of the stubborn and deadly virus.
We won’t see children running in the streets, singing door-to-door the traditional “kalanda”.
With this in mind, an inspiring teacher from a village in Larissa, Christina Koutelida, and her students, set off to find another way to share the joy of the festive season in their region, not suspecting that their initiative will spread across the country and to Greeks all over the world.
The interactive map they created, pinning videos of traditional carols originally sung in every corner of the country, has brought joy to Greeks as far as Australia as they rediscover the songs they sung in the villages and islands they left behind.
“This Christmas will be different. We won’t see children running in the streets, singing carols,” Christina Koutelida told Neos Kosmos.
“And so we decided to find a way to keep this tradition alive, and have the carols heard in every home this year, despite of everything.”
“People are moved just seeing their traditions complied together in one map. I believe that during these hard times, people are finding solace in connecting with their customs and their traditions,” she adds when we ask her about all the comments and encouragement she has received since her map went viral on the internet.
Christina Koutelida teaches computer science in two villages in Larissa, in the Primary Schools of Makrihori and Sykourio.
“The interactive map was part of our preparation into remote learning, as I tried to create a lesson which the children would find attractive and interesting and motivate them to get involved with enthusiasm and zest.”
The map showcases 50 carols from different regions in Greece. “From Evros to Crete and from Corfu to our beloved Cyprus. We have also added traditional carols from Asia Minor, as well as Pontian and Byzantine carols.”
The students, explored an area of their choice, to find the traditional carol of the region. Their teacher then, created the interactive map using the application thinglink (which is free for educators), pinning to every region the research of her students. The map she tells us is a project in progress as more carols will be added as they expand their research.
The next step is the preparation of a play “Christmas in Greece” where the students are going to show the Christmas customs and carols from all over country.
“I must admit that we are facing some technical issues but our enthusiasm will beat all the difficulties.”
You can enjoy the carols that were selected by the young students by following this link: Traditional Christmas Carols in Greece
Counting down to Christmas with a story and a painting
Another lovely project, created by Ms Koutelida and her students is an online advent calendar.
For the countdown until Christmas, a famous painting with scenes of the festive season has been selected along with a Christmas story, that young and old can enjoy every day.
“In our region we have citizens who have migrated to Australia and they come back every summer to our village,” Ms Koutelida said. “I wish for all the Greeks, wherever they may be, Happy Christmas, with health and strength as we strive to get through these tough times unscathed.”
Follow the link to the: Advent Calendar